Posts by Barnaby Nicholls

  • Hard News: Music: The next festival,

    This is not everyone's cup of tea, but I can't resist the cheese and caffeine injection into the usual epic synth sweep of M83

    Wellington • Since Apr 2013 • 19 posts Report

  • Hard News: Friday Music: Silver and Gold,

    Tame Impala Tame Impala Tame Impala. Sorry, couldn't contain my excitement for a moment there. New album out today and by all accounts it's a goodie - apparently people weren't buzzed about the lead single/album track Let It Happen, but I have no idea why. Beautiful sound, some great bait-and-switch moments, angelic harmonies, some (relatively) dirty guitar in the coda to cut through the swirling synths - this is paradise:

    Wellington • Since Apr 2013 • 19 posts Report

  • Hard News: Friday Music: A dream or…,

    Jamie xx is fantastic – it’s great to hear him pump it up a bit when the last xx album was so restrained. He’s got something special, for sure.

    I’m really enjoying the new Beck song – he’s gone pop and it’s gone well. It’s frivolous, but a little bit wonderful. It’s never going to have as deep an impact as Sea Change, which got me through some difficult times, but for throwaway fun you could do a lot worse.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2013 • 19 posts Report

  • Hard News: Friday Music: Up the Charts,

    Iit's like the old chestnut about U2 - I don't know anyone who likes Six60, but apparently they're getting plenty of listens from somewhere. It's a mite depressing, but not half as depressing as that awful Charlie Puth song - I've never been so hopeful of a Gaye family lawsuit. "Let's Marvin Gaye and get it on" deserves to go down as the worst chorus lyric in history, it might be intended as wry or playful (although I wouldn't credit them with that level of self-awareness) but it makes no sense. There is something awful about current top-40 music, barring the odd exception. It's all paint-by-numbers and designed by committee, flashes of inspiration are hard to discover. Thank god for Jamie xx, then. The album is terrific, all melancholy and euphoria.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2013 • 19 posts Report

  • Hard News: The epitome of reason,

    It's good to be wary about comparisons between UK and NZ Labor, but the biggest thing in common is how many people were caught by surprise by the nature of the most recent elections. There's a lesson against being caught in your comfortable bubble of online leftwing activism - I like it, but it ultimately doesn't grow support. Owen Jones has written a good piece on connecting with voters, undoubtedly the key challenge but one that Podemos in Spain has confronted with success:

    "Outside the political world, most think in terms of issues to be addressed in a way that is convincing, coherent, and communicated in a language that people understand. Statistics and facts won’t win the support of millions; we’re human beings, we think in terms of empathy. Stories are more persuasive, because they speak to us emotionally."

    This for me was the most attractive part of the Greens 2011 campaign - their focus wasn't on how policies would affect GDP or some other bloodless measure, but on what it meant to have a richer NZ. There was a coherent story describing a lifestyle people could support. This is the kind of thing you need to do to have any hope of popular support. Being in opposition isn't enough, you have to tell a coherent and engaging story.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2013 • 19 posts Report

  • Hard News: The epitome of reason,

    Miliband was hardly unelectable, but he was dealing with a constant barrage of negative press. Not even negative press on policy or actual problems, but focus on how a man eats a bacon sandwich - it was relentless. I have little doubt that the SNP would probably have won multiple seats across Northern England, if they'd made the call to run candidates there (I admit this would be an incredibly bizarre move). But their popularity came from running a consistent anti-austerity message.

    Miliband was damaged by much out of his control (it's hard to imagine broadsheet front pages the day after a major Tory speech focussing on Cameron being a weird eater rather than an announced policy), but one thing that was firmly in his grasp was messaging. Austerity is far from popular but Labour conceded that it was necessary - giving in to the key Conservative narrative that Labour had stuffed everything up. People had a choice between Blue and Lite Blue, and they voted for the vivid colour.

    Labour's problems in NZ are quite different, so far as I can tell. It's nothing to do with "sheeple", and everything to do with imagination. Labour needs to figure out policies which inspire, and build a coherent story about what they stand for. It's not just the policy, it's the ambition to frame it as meaning something bigger. The Greens appear to have this coherence - given any policy area, it's generally pretty easy to predict where the Greens will stand, because the conviction underpinning their politics is clear. But, for some reason, the Greens still get given short shrift by a bevy of commentators who think that the 'niche' concern of trying to stop the world from burning to a cinder makes one a socks-and-sandals hippie.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2013 • 19 posts Report

  • Hard News: Friday Music: Out there in…,

    Disappointing as it is to have not won a copy of the new UMO album, this is tempered majorly by the sound of the Phoenix Foundation. As a music fan perennially chasing the curve, falling in love with bands that have broken up or died, it's exciting to be crazy about a band that is continually putting out fresh music of the highest quality. I got chills when I first heard Pot, when I first heard Black Mould, and now when I hear this - they can just do no wrong these last few years.

    Here's that old performance of Black Mould from the Sundae Sessions:

    Wellington • Since Apr 2013 • 19 posts Report

  • Envirologue: Fool me Once: Lessons on…,

    It's been said already, but I think it bears repeating: what on Earth are the positives in this deal? It doesn't even look economically enticing in the short-term, let alone the long. I haven't heard a single solid reason - even the cheerleaders at the Herald mouth vague platitudes about free trade being the bees knees and how all the TPPA's problems are because the government just isn't selling them.

    If there's something so great that it's worth sacrificing a prudent and successful health-funding model, environmental and public health protections, and even, goddammit, the country's sovereignty itself (investor-state dispute settlement is a joke - you want to hand over NZ's ability to make laws to some trade arbitration panel? FFS), you'd think someone would have spoken up by now to highlight it. The US is never going to give up agricultural subsidies, so it's not like our almighty agriculture sector is getting anything either. So I respectfully demand the right to read something into the silence - cheerleaders have nothing solid because there is nothing solid to cheer about. Why go for it? Golf time at the top table?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2013 • 19 posts Report

  • Hard News: Climate, money and risk,

    Even if stringent environmental protections would cripple NZ's biggest industry - a dubious claim - the choice between environmental sustainability and economic viability should still be a no-brainer. If a project can only be economically viable in the absence of environmental protection, then it should not go ahead. If the current "balancing" of the environment with the economy continues indefinitely, tipping precipitously towards the economy rather than the environment, we will be left with an environmental catastrophe.

    It's simply not worth it. Environmental sustainability is necessary whatever the economic cost - because we can overcome a slight GDP forecast downgrade, but we can't overcome a destroyed environment.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2013 • 19 posts Report

  • Hard News: Who Guards the Guardian?,

    I would happily pay a subscription to the Guardian - it's long frustrated me that I can't voluntarily donate short of sending an envelope with cash to the office of A Rusbridger. I think a Bandcamp model for journalism could be effective.

    I must admit to being completely flummoxed by the attention on Glenn Greenwald. I've always enjoyed his opinion pieces - strong arguments, solidly constructed, and he seems always determined to speak truth to power (which appears to be increasingly rare in the mainstream press). You can always argue that more time spent on a story would produce a tighter story, but I think the Guardian was right to publish so quickly - drawing public attention to the issue before it could be suppressed keeps them off the defensive. It's an indictment of the non-Guardian media that most stories since the leaks have focused on Greenwald and Snowden (particularly all that rubbish from Sheremetyevo Airport) - a bizarre misplacement of journalistic priorities, surely.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2013 • 19 posts Report

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